Friday, May 17, 2013

"Spring Creek" (oil on linen; 12" x 12")

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"Spring Creek" half finished

Reference photo

Last Friday was the last day of Gregory Packard's workshop.  I was sneezing, headachy, and burning up with fever.  Besides, I had a two-hour drive back home on I-95 to deal with.  I could have skipped the last session, but you know me better.  I pulled out a photo of Holmes Run running through Green Spring Gardens Park in Alexandria, VA. Using the same palette as the day before, I painted "Spring Creek" quickly.  The grays have become a lot subtler in five days.  Even without darks and brights, the painting looked luminous.  Greg told me several times not to overwork the painting.

But Greg lives in Colorado and I am on my own now.  Ultimately, I am the one who has to live with the painting.  It looked chalky and unfinished.  So I got to work.  Please don't tell me I ruined it!

What did I learn in Greg's workshop?  I learned a lot about color harmony.  The whole point of mixing piles of grays with a limited palette is to ensure that all the colors in the painting are related to each other.  The predominance of grays--muted, grayed down colors--allows the bright colors to sing.  I am finally beginning to understand what Kevin Macpherson says in his two books.

During the workshop, I also experienced the southern hospitality firsthand.  After the plein-air painting session last Thursday, I was packing up to head back to the hotel.  A local artist whom I met a couple of days ago asked me if I would like to come to her house for a drink.  Of course!  After a nice cold beer on her deck, she asked me to stay for dinner.  After a delicious dinner her husband had prepared, she suggested a walk in the neighborhood park.  Wow.  I made a good friend that day.

The workshop organizers of the Richmond Art Workshops too went out of their way to make the workshop experience memorable.  After the Wednesday sessions, they took us to Laraze Gallery in Charles City, VA, about 45 minutes from Bon Air, VA.  This premier, privately-owned, gallery offers a breath-taking view of the James River.  Once you step inside, you are whisked away to the world of the Russian/Soviet Impressionist art.  You know what?  We were amazed to see how many paintings were made beautiful by the wondrous grays.

The view of the James River from the grounds of the Wurdeman family estate

Kathy Wurdeman on the right greeting us in the main level of Lazare Gallery

The upper level of Lazare Gallery